In the Trenches: And on the Seventh Day ...

Rick Williams

Rick Williams owns Rick’s Sign Company, a commercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and has been a contributing editor to Sign Business since 1986. Contact Rick via e-mail at ricksignco@aol.com.

Pastor Weeks was a great guy, and I always enjoyed working for him. He ministered to a mostly black congregation of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the small town of Jefferson, Texas, and another on the south side of Longview, and I did signs for them both.

Once those churches were on higher ground, the Adventist leadership sent him to Marshall, Texas, and I did another sign there. Pastor Weeks was clearly capable, affable, and possessed a calm yet magnetic personality, and I always learned something when we had a chance to visit.

His next assignment was way up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and before he moved away Pastor Weeks made me commit to building and installing a sign, similar to the ones I’d done in Texas, for his new church home in Sooner land.

Once the work was done and ready for my trip, I called him and told him I planned to finish my work week on Friday by getting his sign delivered, assembled and ready for his worship service the next day, the Sabbath, a day sooner than most Christians arrive at church.

Pastor Weeks was very happy to hear that, but ended our phone call with a word of caution. “Rick, you need to realize that the Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday, and you must be done working on the church property by then. If you’re not finished, you will have to wait until Sunday to complete your job, for we don’t do any work around here on the Lord’s day.”

I assured him that I would get on the road early as it was a five-hour trip, but would be there around lunch and have enough time to set the posts in concrete, assemble the components of the sign around the posts, touch up and get out before the sun dropped out of sight. He said he would help me with the digging, and I knew he could because he was still built like the college athlete he once was.

It was the end of winter, and the days short, so I hit the road just before sunrise. Between Deport and Paris, Texas, I came upon the site of a bad wreck, and there were obvious injuries. I stopped, as well as others, to see if I could help, but what was really needed was an ambulance. With little to do, I headed north again, and met the ambulance coming toward me after a few miles.

As I approached Paris, Texas, I noticed a sign on the right pointing to the municipal airport and remembered having landed a small plane there years before. Paris isn’t large, but it had a loop and I veered off Hwy 271 onto that loop to get around town, which didn’t take long. I took the exit to get back on 271 and was picking up speed when I noticed they had another airport in Paris, and this one was to the left side of the road, and thought that was pretty ambitious for a small town.

A few miles further I met another ambulance, and was thinking this was sure a bad day for some folks when it dawned on me that it was the same ambulance as before, now headed back to Paris and I was driving away from Oklahoma as fast as I could, while my preacher friend was up there expecting me to complete his project before the sun went down. The loop around Paris was so short I had passed the exit I should have taken before I was even looking for it.

Pastor Weeks was as good a helper as I’ve known, but as we worked, that winter sun was sinking fast. For a while it looked like he’d have one more sinner at church service the next morning, and that extra sinner/sign maker would be staying over and finishing his job on Sunday.

But, as luck, prayer, and hard work would have it, we literally put the final rivets in the trim and finger painted their heads as the sun dipped below the Oklahoma horizon. We laughed and congratulated ourselves, and were thankful for, and impressed by the work we had done.

And now these years later, I smile when I remember that day, and my friend and helper, Pastor Weeks. He’s still one of my favorite customers, a man of principle, who preaches a day before I’m normally listening, and always sets an example to be respected and admired.

Wherever he is, I hope he’s having a great month… and you are too.